Drug smuggling cases have dropped during lockdown, narcotics bureau saysA month prior to the lockdown, the bureau had arrested 70 people on drug smuggling charges.
Since the lockdown started on March 24, the Narcotics Control Bureau of Nepal Police, which pursues drug smuggling cases, has not recorded any cases of drug smuggling, nor has there been any drug related arrests.
“The whole country, including airways and borders, has been closed for over a month now. So there were no cases recorded during this time,” said SP Birendra Kumar Bashyal, spokesperson for the bureau.
“However, our informants are active and our personnel are collecting information even during lockdown.”
According to the official data, a month prior to the lockdown, the bureau had arrested 70 people on drug smuggling charges.
“Although the bureau has not recorded any drug smuggling cases, police in some areas have arrested people for smuggling marijuana and hashish which are locally produced in some villages of Nepal,” said Bashyal.
On Wednesday, a team deployed by the District Police Office, Dhading, and the Area Police Office, Gajuri, arrested two men with 100 kg of hashish.
The arrestees were identified as Tek Bahadur Tamang, 37 and Bishal Tamang, 37 of Gajuri, Dhading.
“They were smuggling the hashish to Kathmandu on two motorcycles,” an officer at the District Police Office, Dhading, said. “Further investigation is underway,”
Two weeks earlier, police had arrested two persons and impounded a fuel tanker that was smuggling pharmaceutical drugs from Hetauda Sub-metropolitan City-15 along the East-West Highway.
A police team deployed from Area Police Office, Pashupatinagar, had discovered the drugs inside the tanker (Na 3 Kha 6466) ferrying diesel.
The law enforcement agency discovered 115 bottles of pharmaceutical drugs in the tanker.
The arrested duo was identified as driver Man Bahadur Thoker, 33, of Thaha Municipality-4 and Sete Lama, 45, of Hetauda-4.
“Drug smugglers are taking risks despite strict security surveillance because the lockdown has also affected the illegal drug trade and they can make a huge profit during these lean times,” said Bashyal.
The narcotics bureau which is headquartered in Koteshwor, Kathmandu, also runs its operations from Kakadbhitta, Jhapa; Biratnagar, Morang; Birgunj, Parsa; Pokhara, Kaski; Bhairahawa; Rupandehi; Nepalgunj, Banke; Mahendranagar, Kanchanpur; and Birendranagar, Surkhet.
The bureau in the past three year has witnessed the steady rise in the number of drug smuggling cases and arrests.
In the fiscal year 2016/17, police arrested 3,607 persons on drug smuggling charges. Of them, 159 were foreigners. In the fiscal year 2017/18, authorities arrested 4,754 persons, including 149 foreigners. In 2018/19, 5,558 people were arrested, including 201 foreign nationals.
According to Bashyal, this was the first time when there were zero cases recorded for over a month.